Why are Steel Structures Used in Most Construction?


Empire State Building
The Brooklyn Bridge
Burj Khalifa


Did you know that steel is a high-strength grade of construction material?

Steel, known for its reliability and cost efficiency, is considered the go-to material for construction purposes. How are steel structures cost-effective and at the same time the go-to material? Well, it requires fewer raw materials, is lower-maintenance and inexpensive to manufacture, and steel structures are generally more durable than those constructed from other materials because the alloy can endure severe weather conditions. It also staves off rust and mold accumulation, giving the material a longer lifespan. For all these reasons, using steel is widely considered a great long-term investment.

Modern contractors and designers use the material for all types of structural engineering work. Steel can be shaped to accommodate each project’s unique specifications – some of the potential forms it can assume include round tube (HSS), plate, an angle, and wide flange, among others. Its flexibility allows engineers and architects to bring their beautiful designs to life. So, if you’ve ever passed a modern bridge, building, or tower that caught your attention and wondered what it was made of, the answer is probably, at least partially, steel!

If you are curious about buildings and/or bridges built with steel, here are three famous examples:
1. The Empire State Building, located in New York City, was constructed in 1931. The Empire State Building once held the record for being the world’s tallest building. It was designed by William F. Lamb, who drew inspiration from art deco aesthetics.

2. The Brooklyn Bridge, also located in New York City, was constructed in 1883. It is known for having been the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world. The original designer was John Augustus Roebling, who sadly succumbed to injuries he obtained from an accident he had on the bridge. His son, Washington Roebling, continued his work, but also suffered an accident that led to him developing a sickness, and his wife Emily Warren Roebling subsequently stepped in to help him finish the bridge.

3. The Burj Khalifa, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was constructed in 2006. This building is currently the tallest in the world. It was designed by Adrian Smith, and according to the ruler of Dubai, the inspiration that led to its construction struck him during a previous visit to the Empire State Building.

5 Engineers You Should Know About

Gustave Eiffel


George Stephenson


Isambard Kingdom Brunel


Thomas Andrews


John Augustus Roebling


1. Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923): A renowned French civil engineer and architect, Gustave Eiffel is remembered as “the Magician of Iron.” Can you guess which famous iron structure this magician cast? Indeed, his masterpiece is the Eiffel Tower. During and after its construction, thinkers of the time criticized the tower’s ambitious design. Some even protested the tower, claiming Eiffel was blatantly disregarding the principles of physics to create an artistic form. However, his design for what was then to be the tallest tower in the world accounted for the real-world conditions that it would need to withstand:

Is it not true that the very conditions which give strength also conform to the hidden rules of harmony? … Now to what phenomenon did I have to give primary concern in designing the Tower? It was wind resistance. Well then! I hold that the curvature of the monument's four outer edges, which is as mathematical calculation dictated it should be … will give a great impression of strength and beauty, for it will reveal to the eyes of the observer the boldness of the design as a whole. – Gustave Eiffel

Thanks to both Eiffel’s genius and his boldness, the Eiffel Tower today enjoys a coveted spot on the list of the Seven Wonders of the World, and it remains a veritable global icon.

2. George Stephenson (1781-1848): George Stephenson revolutionized transportation and urban infrastructure by creating the world’s first public inter-city railway line that used steam locomotives. This British Engineer, often referred to as “The Father of Railways,” is also credited with devising the historic measurement of the rail gauge at four feet eight-and-a-half inches, which became the standard railway gauge measurement worldwide.

3. Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859): A celebrated experimenter and risk-taker, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the man behind the Great Western Railway, the company that connected London to the west part of England. His unconventional thinking led him to many firsts: from being the first engineer to envision building a tunnel under a river to playing a key role in the development of the first propeller-driven iron ship.

4. Thomas Andrews (1873-1912): Thomas Andrews was the principal architect for the infamous RMS Titanic. He was aboard the ship during its maiden—and only—voyage in 1912, and when the ship hit an iceberg, he calculated that it would sink within a few short hours. Survivors’ accounts tell of Andrews bravely alerting passengers of the imminent danger, urging women and children to board the severely limited number of lifeboats. Andrews was also said to have suggested more than twice the number of lifeboats the Titanic was given and a double hull and watertight bulkheads during planning and construction, suggestions which were rejected. He perished in the ship’s sinking, a harsh lesson in the consequences of industrial hubris, prioritizing profit over safety.

5. John Augustus Roebling (1806-1869): A Prussian immigrant renowned for his suspension bridge designs, John Augustus Roebling discovered a method of twisting iron together to create a “wire rope,” which he manufactured and used to construct durable suspension bridges. One of the most famous projects he designed was the Brooklyn Bridge. Unfortunately, he sustained an injury in an on-site accident that resulted in a fatal case of tetanus before the bridge could be completed.

Bonus! – Emily Warren Roebling (1843-1903) and Washington Roebling (1837-1926): Emily Warren Roebling broke down gender barriers while building the Brooklyn Bridge. Hailing from the Hudson Valley, she studied engineering in Europe alongside her husband Washington Roebling, the son of John Augustus Roebling. Washington took over as Chief Engineer following his father’s death, but he soon developed caisson disease and became too ill to work. Emily then stepped in as “the first woman field engineer.” She carried out many of Washington’s duties, overseeing construction until the bridge’s completion in 1883.

Rehabilitation of 7 Bridges in the Vicinity of the Van Wyck Expressway and Queens Boulevard

KC provided construction inspection services during the construction of Manton Street over Queens Boulevard deck replacement, Queens Boulevard over Main Street deck replacement, Queens Boulevard over Van Wyck Expressway deck replacement, Van Wyck Expressway over Main Street superstructure replacement, Hoover Avenue over Van Wyck Expressway painting, Van Wyck Expressway ramp over Van Wyck Expressway painting, and 82nd Avenue pedestrian bridge over Van Wyck Expressway painting.

Work also included new fixed and expansion bearings, new deck joints and reconstruction of abutments and piers, removal and replacement of the 86th Avenue pedestrian bridge, and construction of a weaving lane along the Northbound Van Wyck Expressway mainline between Hillside Avenue and Main Street.

Services performed included detailed inspections, onsite field testing of materials, field measurements and collection of data necessary to submit monthly and final estimates and progress reports, and preparation of record plans. All records were kept in accordance with the Manual of Uniform Record Keeping (MURK).

Infrastructure Week Day 3: Transit

City of Kingston Greenkill Avenue Bridge Replacement

Public transit is a staple of our nation that continues to grow yearly, although remains neglected and radically underfunded.

American transit systems carry billions of people a year via trains, commuter buses, ridesharing services, and more. These systems mainly provide transportation in urban areas, but are vital in many rural areas across the country.

In the past few years, we’ve seen major train derailments, non-passengers killed in transit-related accidents, and damaged infrastructure as a result of natural disaster. The resilience of outdated, unreliable infrastructure is tested day by day.

For full functionality of national transit systems, we need not only transit vehicles, but also sufficient infrastructure like traffic signals, train tracks, and roadways to successfully carry and guide these vehicles. However, with lack of funding, years of deferred maintenance, and aging infrastructure, our public transit systems continue to suffer.

At KC Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. (KC), our civil engineering services include roadway and highway design, traffic engineering, lighting design, and other services to maintain and improve transit operations.

With projects like Gowanus Expressway Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and Emergency Repairs, Greenkill Avenue Bridge Replacement, and Route 9D Pedestrian Improvements, KC has provided construction inspection for replacement of bridge and mounting tube railings, design assessment for rehabilitation of railroad bridges, and traffic calming and street lighting design.

Infrastructure Week Day 1: Bridges

Replacement of the Route 59 Bridge over MNRR

How do we resolve a problem as widespread as nationally deficient bridge infrastructure?

Year after year, America’s deteriorating infrastructure is so critically neglected that now, in 2018, we face a multi-billion dollar backlog for the rehabilitation of bridges, a vital facet of the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

While the number of structurally deficient bridges in the United States is down significantly from years past, according to an Infrastructure Report Card provided by the American Society of Civil Engineers, around 188 million trips were taken across these deficient bridges in 2017.

Rehabilitation needs for bridges are backlogged as much as $123 billion, an investment of over half of the funding already provided. These high repair and rehabilitation costs pose a nationwide challenge to state transportation agencies pursuing the construction of reliable infrastructure.

At KC Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. (KC), structural engineering remains an integral part of our corporation’s contribution to providing safe, sufficient bridge infrastructure.

With projects like the Design and Construction of Emergency Repairs of the Park Avenue Viaduct at 118th Street, Replacement of the Route 59 Bridge over MNRR, and the Greenkill Avenue Bridge Replacement, KC is continuously able to provide survey services, design assessment, and structural analysis for the replacement and rehabilitation of damaged, deficient, and extremely vital bridge infrastructure in various counties of New York State.